Opening of Aleppo-Damascus highway
The Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced on Saturday that all sides in the Astana Syria peace talks will be taking part in next week’s meetings. As Asharq Al-Awsat writes in an article "Opening Aleppo-Damascus Highway on Agenda of Astana 9 Syria Talks", delegations from the Syrian regime and opposition will attend the ninth round of the talks in Astana amid talks that Moscow is seeking the opening of the Aleppo-Damascus highway. Informed sources said that the guarantor states of Russia, Turkey and Iran will take “practical steps” ahead of opening the highway to trade and passengers after a six-year closure.
The decision to open the highway was initially made during the sixth round of Astana talks back in October. At the time, the agreement to open the route was signed by the regime negotiators and opposition, but the deal was not announced because the circumstances on the ground were still not suitable yet.
The highway between Syria’s political and economic capitals is the most important route that can revive the war-torn country’s economy.
It will present a welcome break for the regime, which has been made to rely on the 175-km desert road where checkpoints, looting and kidnappings are rampant. For the opposition, the opening of the highway will pave the way for trade opportunities with regime-held regions. This will help reduce the cost of regime-supplied fuel and various products in areas under its control, such as Idlib and the Hama countrysides. The highway will also offer residents of opposition-held regions safe travel routes to Aleppo. Opposition sources revealed that several routes along the highway will be open to trade and travelers between opposition and regime areas.